Stuart Pearce has not even presided over a competitive fixture as Nottingham Forest’s manager and already he finds himself in dispute with the club’s owner and chairman.
Pearce, who agreed to take over in the close season following the sacking of Billy Davies in March, had reacted in prickly fashion on Monday when he was asked about two of his players, Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow, joining Newcastle, claiming they had been allowed to leave against his advice.
But Forest’s owner Fawaz al-Hasawi insisted that Pearce had been involved in the decision to sell the two players. Central defender Lascelles, 20, and goalkeeper Darlow, 23, have completed their moves to St James’ Park, with Newcastle loaning them back to Forest for the new Championship campaign, which kicks off at home to Blackpool on Saturday.
Hasawi insisted the decision was purely a business one and believes the money the club will receive – thought to be in the region of £7m – will help bring Forest in line with Financial Fair Play guidelines while not weakening the squad in the short term.
In a statement the Kuwaiti businessman said: “I would love nothing more than to hold on to our best young players.
He added: “The manager and I openly discussed the proposed sale of Karl and Jamaal and he was aware of the negotiations throughout,” he insisted. “The business side of football is changing and the requirement to increase revenue means, unfortunately, difficult decisions have to be made.
“As Stuart mentioned in his media interview, I have always backed him financially and that will continue. I respect him greatly and I strongly believe together we can achieve our aims and bring success back to this great club.
“Should the pair’s proposed move to Newcastle be completed as expected, the transfer fees will significantly help us meet the stringent Financial Fair Play [FFP] criteria, all the while allowing us to retain two high-quality players for the 2014-15 season, paying nothing towards their wages.
“Sadly for me, there is no room for sentimentality in the running of a football club and it is up to me to start making some tough decisions to preserve the long-term sustainability of Nottingham Forest.”
Pearce said he had only found out about the moves on Monday when Lascelles informed him he was travelling to the North-east for a medical. “This can be overcome,” Pearce had told the Nottingham Post. “But I am not prepared to fluff things when it comes to what was said and done behind the scenes. Two players were sold against my will.”